Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger shares his thoughts on diversity and why he joined Cummins

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Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger

Appreciating diversity is important to me both personally and professionally.  The diversity of people, their backgrounds and cultures, their perspectives and life experiences, their unique talents and styles, makes both our workplace and our community more interesting, more meaningful and full of greater possibilities.  So, I guess that it is no surprise that our Company’s long-standing commitment to diversity was a key reason I was attracted to Cummins more than twenty years ago.

I remember the morning that I went to the career center at Stanford Business School all those years ago.  I was on a mission to find a company that would both inspire me and be willing to hire me.   In some ways, I knew what I was looking for.  Because I was a mechanical engineer by background and one of only eight members of the Stanford manufacturing club, I knew I wanted to work for a company that made engineered products.  Ideally, the products would be substantial, both important to the economy and mechanically interesting.  I used to say that I wanted to make products that if you dropped them on your foot, it would hurt!

I also wanted to work for a company that asked a lot of its leaders, because I wanted to make a difference in the world and not just earn a paycheck.  I wanted to help the company grow and succeed financially.  But I also wanted to improve the lives of employees, help communities in the US and around the world, and – like so many other idealistic young people – make the world a better place.

As I walked into the career center, I saw one large room with a table in the middle and stacks and stacks of seemingly identical annual reports and brochures on the walls.  It looked like a library without any ability to search for what you are looking for.   I took a deep breath and just started scanning the shelves.

I found some information on manufacturing companies, including Cummins, and sat down at the table to look through it.  While many of the products made by these companies were interesting to me, none of the companies stood out in any way.   That is, until I read the Cummins material.

I had never heard of Cummins before, so I was really starting from scratch. However, shortly after I started reading, I found a picture of Irwin Miller next to his now familiar quote about Diversity:
In the search for character and commitment, we must rid ourselves of inherited, even cherished biases and prejudices. Character, ability and intelligence are not concentrated in one sex over the other, nor in persons with certain accents, or in certain races, or in persons holding degrees from some universities over others. When we indulge ourselves in such irrational prejudices, we damage ourselves most of all and ultimately assure ourselves of failure in competition with those more open and less biased.

That quote inspired me. And it told me that this company was different. As I read the rest of the material and learned about the values of the leaders I met from Cummins during the interview process, I was convinced that this was a company that I wanted to work for and where I wanted to build a career. Of course, I still had to convince them to hire me…

Twenty years later, the joy and pride I experience every day as an employee has only grown. I am convinced that a key reason that Cummins continues to inspire me is the strong commitment to diversity that was embedded in Mr. Miller’s quote and that is sustained by our commitment to the Company’s core values. That commitment is not sustained by a brochure or a 3×5 card stating our core values. That commitment is sustained by the day-to-day actions of Cummins leaders, employees, and teams around the company living the values. I have seen these actions.  I have watched us bring together men and women, employees of different races and religions, people from different countries, and with different sexual orientations, and generate amazing results. Bringing together diverse people with a purpose has helped us develop the best products, solve tough customer problems, and outperform competition.

I know now that the words I read in that Cummins brochure were more than just words.  They described the soul of this company.

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